Thursday, August 30, 2007

What You Do-

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say ~
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the "signature quote" added to every communication from the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) located in Lantry, SD. The following is a summary of a recent press release sent out by ISPMB and is offered here to raise awareness and help for these historic horses needing your support.

-Three hundred wild horses that roamed wild and free on the Cheyenne River Reservation for six years will be removed by the Tribe on September 10th and returned to ISPMB under stipulations of an agreement between CRST and ISPMB.

The Tribe was given 82 wild horses in November 2001 to help develop their Tribal Tourism Park in hopes to stimulate their economy. The offspring of the horses were to be provided to the Lakota youth offering much needed activities for children on the reservation. No progress has been made toward achieving those goals," say ISPMB's president, Karen Sussman.

"The horses came to our people in a spiritual way and we had ceremonies welcoming the return of the wild horses. We sang songs that had not been sung in over 100 years. This is a sad day to see the horses removed," say Arvol Looking Horse - Keeper of the Sacred Buffalo Calf Pipe and Tribalmember.

Now facing the possible loss of the VE Ranch by the Tribe where over 800 wild buffalo once roamed along with the 300 wild horses, the Tribe has opened the nearly 22,000 acre ranch to cattle grazing. With less than 30 days to find a refuge for the horses, ISPMB is putting out a call for help. The organization was hit hard during this past year in finding and supplying hay to its three herds that it manages on the reservation.

"Located in the epicenter of the drought in our nation, there literally was no hay production within 100 miles of our ranch," say Sussman."We expended a lot of money on hay and now to save these 300 horses, we will need more hay."The organization plans to adopt out 150 or more of the young animals from one to three years of age and find temporary headquarters for the older animals until they can be returned to the wild. The mares will all receive birth control until a permanent location can be found.

The return of the horses to ISPMB comes at a very difficult time. Last year, ISPMB and its three herds survived the worst drought in the history of our state. The past year created a financial hardship for ISPMB. Because these are "Annie's horses," and following our mission to protect wildhorses, ISPMB is committed to saving these horses. We hope you can help us raise the $50,000 needed to save "Annie's" horses.

According to Sussman, the wild horses ISPMB will receive have great cultural and historic value as they are the ancestors of the first wild horses protected in the United States in 1952 in the Virginia Range in Storey County, Nevada by ISPMB's first president, Velma Johnston, affectionately known as "Wild Horse Annie." Ms. Johnston and ISPMB were responsible for the passage of the 1971 federal law that protects wild horses and burros for future generations to enjoy.

Today only 23,000 wild horses roam on public lands. More wild horses now are in captivity then exist on public lands. The numbers have dropped to 2/3 fewer wild horses than in 1971 when they were nearly eradicated. Areas where the wild horses and burros could be found were 303 sites in ten western states. Now there are only 198 sites left.


These horses are from the area near Virginia City, Nevada where Wild Horse Annie's ranch was once located and are often referred to as "Annie's Horses." They were the first wild horses to be protected when Annie was able to push through the 1952 Storey County law that prohibited the poisoning of water holes and the use of aircraft to capture wild horses. Ironically, when the 1971 federal law passed to protect wild horses and burros, these horses were not protected because they were not on federal land.

Today, the horses' current range is being threatened by the continual expansion of homes decreasing their habitat area.

ISPMB must raise $50,000 for hay and veterinary expenses to save the Virginie Range Horses.



* Sponsor the Virginia Range Herd ($5,000) -
Receive a certificate ofthe herd and its history, a beautiful 8x10 photograph and a once in a lifetime three-day vacation at our wild horse ranch viewing, photographing, and interacting with the herd. Your name will be inscribed on our donor wall as a founding member of our International Wild Horse and Burro Heritage Center.
* Donations of $25 or more - receive a certificate with a photo of the herd -
"I Helped Save the Virginia Range Wild Horses"*
*Spread the word and ask your friends and family to participate.
*Actually adopt a horse from the herd. Horses will go to qualified adopters.
*Create fundraisers in your area to help us.


* Donations of hay are needed.
* Temporary locations are needed to house 10 to 20 horses.
* Permanent homes needed for the younger animals to qualifiedadopters.
* Volunteer help to haul horses and care for animals.
* Land needed to temporarily house 100 horses.

Karen A. Sussman
President, ISPMB
PO Box 55
Lantry, SD 57636-0055
Tel: 605.964.6866
Cell: 605.430.2088
Saving America's Wild Horses and Burros since 1960
Become a member of ISPMB today!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hunting for Horses?

An Executive Order was issued by President Bush on August 18, 2007, that directed federal land agencies to work with state governments, state and federal wildlife agencies, and consult with a Sporting Conservation Council, which includes such heavy hitters as the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International, for the sole intent of establishing a preference in all management actions that will prioritize big game hunting opportunities at the expense of all other uses on federal lands.

Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER, a nationwide association of government workers in natural resources agencies was quoted as saying, “This is political meddling posing as a conservation policy and reads like it was written by a lobbysist”. (1)

Former big game management plans and introductions have rarely impacted livestock grazing or their allocations on public lands but have often resulted in devastating impacts to wild horse and burro allowable population levels - consider it the newest way wild horses and burros are being “hunted to extinction” in the West.

Most big game species have already been issued special management designations such as Priority, Special Status, or Sensitive Species categorizations that result in wild horse and burro populations being subordinated to these prime hunting species. Despite their federally protected status, many wild horse and burro herds have been totally zeroed out for exclusive big game use and expansions.

The Muddy Mountain Herd Management Area, located near Lake Mead in Southern Nevada, was zeroed out for all wild burro use in 2005 (2), and the BLM removed the last remaining burros in March 2007. Meanwhile, the area is touted as Nevada’s second largest hunt unit for big horn sheep, a tall dollar hunting species with BLMs most recent plans to manage for a big horn population of 505 adults within the same area deemed “not suitable for wild burro use”(3) So much for the florishing population of over thirty years and the "thriving ecological balance".......

The 1999 Lincoln County Elk Management Plan in Nevada plans to manage for a population of elk that exceeds wild horse populations by 3-1. (4) Curiously, no reduction in livestock was implemented to accommodate the elks forage needs but in 2003, a couple of hundred horses suddenly became too “excessive” for the range to support through a mass “appropriate management decision" for twelve Herd Management Areas in the elk planning area. (5)

Southern California’s last herd of 29 wild horses were zeroed out in 2004 to “protect” big horn sheep, the Clark Mountain burros along the Southern California/Nevada border, a documented 400-year old herd and one of the last remaining wild burro herds in the entire state of California, was also zeroed out this January. One of the major reasons cited as supporting the decision to eliminate them was the allocation of water for exclusive bighorn sheep use. (6)

The controversial and historic Sheldon Refuge wild horses and burros are being targeted for unfair management practices in favor of valuable “native” hunting species. Refuge managers state the need to protect big game species as the priority, citing the Refuge’s primary purpose was established to protect and preserve pronghorn antelope. However, a lot has changed since the 1930’s when national pronghorn estimates hovered around 26,000. (7) Today, Nevada’s pronghorn population is estimated at 23,500, the highest ever recorded (8) and in 2002, the nationwide pronghorn population was estimated at over 600,000. (9)

If you just look at the surface, it seems like a good idea. Why wouldn’t we want more big game species on public lands? They are beautiful to watch and hunting is a very popular past time for many Americans. But if one digs a little deeper, it becomes apparent, it’s not about wildlife, it’s about hunting revenue and lots of it!

“Ninety percent of the funding goes towards ten percent of the species”, one source said and looking at the figures below, is it any wonder why?

In 2005, one fund raising event raised over $2.2 million dollars during the auctioning of twenty big horn sheep hunting tags. The highest tag commanded a stunning $199,000 in Arizona and second place went to New Mexico for a cool $177,800 - not the kind of cash the average American citizen can afford to pay for this elitist privilege. (10)

A study done in 1996 analyzed the economic impacts of hunting and estimated that if the hunting “industry” was measured as a corporation, it would be listed as number thirty-five in the Fortune Five Hundred List with an estimated nationwide economic impact of $61 billion dollars, created household incomes totaling $416.1 billion, roughly equivalent to twenty-five percent of America’s entire military payroll and contributed $1.7 billion in federal income taxes, which equated to almost half of the entire federal budget for commerce (11).

Those statistics are over ten years old and big game populations have continued to rapidly increase.

So the next time you are wondering where all the wild horses and burros have gone, check your big game statistics. You will probably find they were introduced and are being managed under the radar, so to speak, through a helpful little technique often employed by government agencies called, “Categorical Exclusions”, which allows our public servants to make back room deals without going through lawful evaluations and presentations to the public. This also re-allocates critical resources such as food and water once reserved for wild horses and burros to big game species instead.

As for President Bush’s newest Executive Order, it would appear he intends to continue to use whatever means available to circumvent Congressional intent and public laws in order to further the exploitation of our resources for the benefit of the few. The chances of this new Executive Order seriously affecting mining, oil and gas, timber harvest, or livestock operations are negligible, as these uses have also been issued a top priority status in public resource management by him and those in his administration.

So what other management considerations will this affect besides the last remaining wild horses and burros of America? Perhaps we should ask Congress…..

1. Environment News Service (ENS)
2. Bureau of Land Management, Las Vegas Field Office, Johnnie, Muddy Mountains, and Wheeler Pass Herd Management Areas Environmental Assessment for Establishment of Appropriate Management Levels, December 2005 and Lake Mead Complex Final Gather Plan Environmental Assessment # NV-052-2007-69
3. Bureau of Land Management, Las Vegas Field Office, Muddy Mountain Wilderness Draft Management Plan, Page 49, October 2006.
4. Nevada Department of Wildlife 1999 Lincoln County Elk Management Plan
5. Bureau of Land Management, Ely Field Office, “Notice of Wild Horse Management Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Establishment of Appropriate Management Levels for Twelve Wild Horse Herd Management Areas within the Ely District” and Environmental Assessment EA-NV-040-03-036, 2003.
6. Bureau of Land Management, Needles Field Office, CA-690-EA04-27 Clark Mountain Decision Record and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Clark Mountain Herd Area Burro Removal, Fiscal Year 2007-2012, January 2007.
7. Nevada’s Pronghorn Antelope – Ecology, Management and Conservation By George K. Tsukamoto 1983 First Revision Edited and Written by Greg Tanner, Kraig Geckstrand, Larry Gilbertson, Craig Mortimore, John Himes, Nelson (1925).
8. Nevada Department of Wildlife NDOW 2006-2007 Big Game Status
9. Nevada’s Pronghorn Antelope – Ecology, Management and Conservation By George K. Tsukamoto 1983 First Revision Edited and Written by Greg Tanner, Kraig Geckstrand, Larry Gilbertson, Craig Mortimore, John Himes, Biological Bulletin 13, May 2003, Table 2. Survey and estimate methods – State and Province Survey from the 2002 Pronghorn Workshop
10. Oregon Department of Wildlife Website- March 2005
11. Economic StudyCalifornia Department of Fish and Game These 1996 spending figures were derived from the latest United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation, conducted every five years in conjunction with the U.S.Census Bureau. Economic analysts for the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA; through Southwick Associates, a resource-economics consulting firm). This web page was developed from the report of the same title for the IAFWA through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Cooperative Grant Agreement No. 14-48-98210-97-G047 using Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration administration funds.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Horse Sense

For thousands of years, horses and burros carried us to where we are today. Since the arrival of the automobile, many believe that horses and burros have become obsolete, their roles merely relegated to uses of pleasure and companionship.

Those intimate with horses have always known they possess good judgment, unlike humans, which are easily fooled by appearances, fancy words, and liars of sincerity. A horse can “smell a rat” and their common sense has long been recognized and coined by the term “horse sense”.

Burros too are known to possess great common sense, a virtue that we humans seem to have lost somewhere in our march for an often illusionary based techno-culture.

It’s been said that the legendary stubbornness of a burro comes from its ability to recognize a bad idea when it sees one and no matter how hard its “master” tries to convince the burro otherwise, a bad idea is a bad idea and the burro will not budge. Just picture a forty-niner miner trying to get a burro to go up a steep cliff with loads too heavy to balance, all because they are blinded by the pot of gold at the end!

Today, witnessing a world that too often seems to be spiraling out of control, a general lack of common sense prevails and what we need is a good dose of “horse sense” to help us find our way again.

As we watch the presidential candidates parroting their politically correct speeches in their bid to steer our country, trying to figure out who’s ethical, who’s telling the truth, who really stands for the values our Nation was founded on, why not ask the wild horses and burros who the best candidate is? It’s that simple!

All you have to do is ask a presidential hopeful what their policy will be on protecting and preserving wild horses and burros. What they tell you will speak volumes as to the kind of leader they will be.

If they respond that wild horses and burros need to be controlled and removed to “protect the range”, it is a sure sign that they are in league with those who seek to exploit our natural resources merely for profit with no consideration of the consequences - definitely not someone we want steering our country and our children’s future.

If they respond that they will have to “study the issue”, it clearly shows that they are stalling to prevent any sort of commitment on record. This would indicate someone that lacks courage, is a flip-flopper and will not respect or honor the laws and promises made to the American people.

If they refuse to answer at all, you can be sure that this is how they will run their administration – through secrecy, stonewalling, avoidance and lack of any accountability to the American people regarding their actions or policies.

If they respond quickly and take the stance that a promise is a promise, that they believe in honoring the laws established to preserve and protect them, you know you have a candidate who is ethical, honorable, willing to take responsibility for their actions, and will care about our country more than just whatever they can exploit while they serve in their capacity as President of the United States of America.

So if you want to know who will make the best leader, just use some “horse sense” and ask the candidates where they stand on the issue of preservation and protection of the wild free-roaming horses and burros of the West. How they respond will take you directly to the heart of their future leadership.

My personal pick is for Dennis Kucinich, Democratic Representative from Ohio. Why? In an otherwise spineless House, not only did he have the backbone to initiate actions to impeach Dick Cheney and hold the current administration accountable for their horrendous violations, both nationally and international, but he has already testified and supported the wild horses and burros of the West against formidable opponents. Obviously, he is a man of integrity who is ethically, not politically and financially based.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Symbols Of

In 1971, due to overwhelming outcry and support by the American people, the wild free-roaming horses and burros of America became the first and last of their kind; the only two species to ever have a National law established solely for their protection and preservation.


Regardless of the history or culture, we have always deeply connected to animals, weaving them or what they symbolize into the fabric of our daily lives. Often, these connections have been religious or spiritual in nature, as the essence of the animal was perceived as embodying a desirable trait, value, or ability that humans wished to emulate or draw from.

So what is it about wild horses and burros that called to the spirit of the American people to declare them a National icon? Here are some thoughts.....

-Spirit of the Horse-

Much like the men and women who explored these vast and untamed lands, some wild horses would rather die than be enslaved. Wild horses exude a fierce independence that is never wholly broken and even today, a captured wild horse may break their neck or legs trying to escape a life of domesticity, restriction, and confinement.

Despite millenniums of bondage, the wild horse’s journey back to its natural free-roaming state was a very short trip indeed. The shackles of servitude slid easily off their backs as they began to roam their native lands, returning once again to what 56 million years of North American evolution had created – total self-reliance and superior adaptation in harmony with their environment.

Breathtakingly beautiful to behold, their wild state conveys tremendous passion, strength, courage and raw power. Embodying the very essence of freedom, they reach deep inside the human heart, invoking memories of our ancient past, resonating with our inner longing for Liberty, that inalienable right and self-evident truth that we declared would be the foundation of our Nation.

Is it any wonder the wild horse has been subjected to such persecution, harassment and death? For those ruled by fear of the unknown, that value dominance, conformity, subordination, servitude, and security, the essence of the wild horse is a constant threat; a living, breathing reminder and symbol of our necessity for freedom to nourish and illuminate the soul.

-Spirit of the Burro-

Gentle and humble, the burro embodies patience, perseverance, endurance and the ability to carry overwhelming burdens for great distances. Like the majority of those who came to America with a dream, hoping for a future beyond their culturally destined fate as a “common man”, it was through their labor and toil that our Nation was built, brick by brick, stone by stone, through sheer tenacity, unyielding will and continuous sacrifice.

Incredibly intelligent and wise, the wild burro is one of the most unappreciated and discarded of all of mankind’s animal tools, much like the “common man” himself.

What else do the wild horses and burros of America represent?